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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 1, 1937)

Our London Letter — Passenger Station Improvement Works

page 37

Our London Letter
Passenger Station Improvement Works

The March Marshalling Yard, L. and N.E. Railway, Cambridge.

The March Marshalling Yard, L. and N.E. Railway, Cambridge.

Bearing in mind the vast improvements introduced at the new Wellington Railway Station, considerable interest attaches to the remodelling and rebuilding of several important Home railway passenger stations—work which is now in hand, or contemplated in the near future. One of the biggest improvement works in progress covers the creation of a new and greater Euston Station in London, where our largest group railway—the London, Midland and Scottish—has its headquarters. Curiously enough, we celebrate on July 20th next, the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of the first section of the London and Birmingham Railway, from Euston to Boxmoor (24½ miles). The London terminus of this pioneer line was known as Euston Square, throughout operation between London and Birmingham commencing in 1838. The original Euston Station was quite adequate to the needs of the period, and the great arch and hall, designed by that genius among early railway architects, Hardwick, were remarkable contemporary contributions to advanced station design. The new Euston should produce equally outstanding examples of the railway architect's genius and adaptability, and provide a fitting headquarters terminus for its owners.

City passenger stations have undergone tremendous improvement in the last few decades. Time was when a railway station was merely a place for the entraining and detraining of passengers, and nothing more. To-day, the railway station is a most important civic and recreational centre. Leipzig, in Germany; Milan, in Italy; and the Eastern station, in Paris, are three continental examples of outstandingly well-designed stations. At Home, numbers of the principal city stations combine space, dignity and artistry, among the better-known being the Southern Railway's Waterloo and Victoria stations in London, the Victoria station of the L. M. & S. at Manchester; the Great Western Company's London terminus at Paddington; and the York station of the London and North Eastern. Some of the London tube stations, also, are fine works in their own class. The railway station being the veritable city centre, it often becomes possible for the modern station designer to provide a fine edifice at reasonable cost, through the additional commercial uses to which the building may be put. Rows of shops, and so on, are frequently included in modern station design. They add to the attractiveness of the station, and the rents derived therefrom provide a valuable source of revenue.

A New Type of Railcar.

Like New Zealand, the Home railways are making extensive use of railcars of various types. An experiment that may have an important bearing on the future use of Diesel railcars is being tried out on the Great Western system. Based on the experience gained from the running of seventeen streamlined single-unit railcars, a new type of car has been constructed, capable of taking a “tail” load, of either passenger or goods stock, up to 60 tons in weight, and of performing light shunting operations. In appearance the new railcar, which may be driven from either end, resembles a huge seaplane
New Great Western Railway railcar, with “tail” load.”

New Great Western Railway railcar, with “tail” load.”

float, with large flush-fitting observation windows running along the top half, and merging at the end into sloping control cabins. The car is driven by two 130 h.p. heavy oil engines, fitted below floor level. Seats are provided for 49 passengers in two saloons opening from a centre vestibule. For branch line working, the advantage of employing a railcar capable of hauling additional vehicles, when required, is obvious.

Steel Rails of Great Length and Weight.

Said to be the longest railway rails ever fashioned in one piece, there have recently been produced for the L. & N.E. Railway one hundred tons of steel rails each 120 feet in length. Each rail, which is of the 100lbs. per yard standard section, weighs over 1¾ tons. The rails are to be laid in the L. & N.E. mainline at Holme, south of Peterborough, at a point where expresses like the “Silver Jubilee” regularly travel at 90 m.p.h. They are being introduced experimentally as part of the plan to do away with as many rail joints as possible, and so to improve train running, both by making smoother travel and lessening noise. At the commencement of the present century, the standard Home main-line rail lengths were 30 and 45 feet. After the War this was generally standardised at 60 feet, page 38 page 39
Central signal box, Netherlands State Railways, Amsterdam.

Central signal box, Netherlands State Railways, Amsterdam.

and a few years ago the L. & N.E.R. were pioneers in this country in laying 90 ft. rails in their main-line track north of York. The same company were also the first to introduce at the beginning of the present decade the medium manganese steel rail which has since been adopted as standard for Home railway use.

Signalling Practice in Various Countries.

Train signalling forms a most important branch of railway working, and it is surprising how signalling practice varies in different lands. In a report prepared for the forthcoming International Railway Congress, by Mr. W. A. Fraser, Engineer (Scotland), L. & N.E. Railway, it is stated that in Great Britain upper-quadrant, mechanically-operated semaphore signals are now standard, except on the Great Western. Large numbers of lower quadrant signals are still employed, however, both types operating through angles varying from 45 to 60 degrees. Canada, South Africa and the United States also employ upper-quadrant signals, while in Japan both three-position upper-quadrant and two-position lower-quadrant signals are favoured. Among other railway systems retaining the lower-quadrant type, the most common angle of operation is 45 degrees. In Great Britain and Ireland, 5,280 feet is the maximum distance at which mechanical signals are erected from the cabin. This compares with the New Zealand figure of 4,500 feet, the Indian 3,000 feet, and the South African 4,000 feet. The maximum length of track circuit under favourable ballast conditions varies on the Home railways from 2,400 to 15,840 feet. For India the figure stands at from 1,800 to 2,500 feet, and for the United States from 4,000 to 7,000 feet.

Britain's Huge Freight Traffic.

Important schemes for the modernisation and extension of freight terminal facilities, at Manchester, Coventry and Derby are being carried out by the L.M. & S. Railway. A feature of these schemes is the introduction of electrically-driven machinery for use in connection with the unloading of wagons, in conjunction with other new equipment and methods. With a total trackage of about 50,000 miles, the Home railways handle about 45,000,000 tons of miscellaneous merchandise annually; 50,000,000 tons of minerals other than coal and coke; and 180,000,000 tons of coal, coke and patent fuel. In addition, approximately 11,000,000 head of livestock are carried. At strategic points, large hump marshalling yards are located, and between these, specially fast daily goods trains operate, giving “next morning” deliveries. One of the largest and most modern marshalling yards is that of the L. & N.E. line at March, Cambridgeshire. This is the “key” rail traffic centre for freight passing from London and East Anglian
Victoria station, Southern Railway, London.

Victoria station, Southern Railway, London.

points to the midlands and north, and vice versa. Some 10,500 wagons may be accommodated, and the total trackage runs to something like 50 miles. Outstanding among the items of equipment are mechanical wagon retarders, working on the Froelich hydraulic system, as originated by the German railways in their Hamm marshalling yard.

Dogs in Railway Police Work.

The employment of dogs for assisting in policing some of the Home railway dock premises has for long been common. Now we hear of canine intelligence being utilised in another direction in the railway world, this time by the Great Western Railway. On certain of the South Wales tracks, sheep have a habit of straying, and to round up these trespassers, sheep dogs are allotted to the permanent-way staffs, and perform invaluable service. The dogs are trained to answer verbal commands from their masters, and also to understand and answer to whistles and hand-signals. In addition to driving sheep off the track, the dogs give warning to the permanent-way men of an approaching train, and will not leave the track until all the men are clear. The track sense of the animals is truly remarkable. If caught between the sets of rails while driving a sheep off the track, they calmly lie down in safety until the two trains have passed.

British-Holland Passenger Business.

Record passenger business is reported between Britain and Holland. Between Harwich and Hook of Holland, the L. & N. E. Railway operates a nightly mail steamship service in each direction. A corresponding daylight service is provided between Harwich and Flushing by the Zeeland Steamship Company. Leaving Liverpool Street station, London, at 8.30 p.m., and dining on the train, the Dutch city of The Hague is reached by seven o'clock next morning, and Amsterdam before eight.

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